‘You are Ukrops*, and we are Russian troops… We will soon be in Kyiv!!!’

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Флаг УкраиныФлаг России
Memories of the captive: ‘You are Ukrops*, and we are Russian troops… We will soon be in Kyiv!!!’

Today we start a series of articles about Ukrainian captives who lived through horror of detention in the so-called DNR and LNR. Every article is based on a true story obtained by members of PO “Shore of Peace” while recording violations of the human rights in the zone of the military conflict in the East of Ukraine. Communication with liberated captives showed that even close people and relatives do not always know and understand the experience of ex-captives. For this reason we share with you the stories that are usually hushed up… For ethical reasons we will not always tell the real name of our hero. All other data, facts, and conditions we leave without changes. Materials will be published on the site of PO “Shore of Peace” http://mb.net.ua in the section “Memories of the Captive” once a week. Every article will be published only with the consent of the released captive.

Oles was captured after the shelling of Dzerkalne village on August 27, 2014. He was detained by military personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation near Stroitel village.

They told, they were the Air Assault Division from Pskov, …there was a senior lieutenant among them – a Chechen, he told it himself, …one of them even told, that he was fighting since the First Chechen War. …We stumbled upon a roadblock, unknown to us, and there was a BMD [airborne infantry fighting vehicle] … or they will shoot, or… They wrapped our guys’ eyes with an adhesive tape; they put wadding, and wrapped the eyes with a tape. …We were told that we were UKROPS. …I had a shell shock, and they gave me two pills of activated carbon.

Oles, together with other captives, spent the night after detention in the cellar of the church, which stood in the field nearby.Oles, together with other captives, spent the night after detention in the cellar of the church, which stood in the field nearby.

They took all personal things, a mobile phone, identification documents, money, everything I had with me. It was humiliating – the way they detained us, called us names, beat us, and you cannot do anything about it, cannot respond. They told me I was Ukrainian, but the place was Novorossia.

In the morning everybody was loaded into KamAZes and drove in an unknown direction, captives could only guess what was waiting for them.
We were transported in KamAZ, right in a trailer, through the territory of the Russian Federation. We left Ukraine, drove around our troops and entered Ukrainian territory again. We cut the awning, because they forbade us to look where they took us, they covered all windows with adhesive tape, so that we couldn`t watch. We saw the border there, we made a hole and watched.
The captives were taken to the territory of the local police department in Snizhne, Donetsk region, and conveyed to militias of the so-called DNR.
We were in the garage of police department. 54 men were in one garage and 45 in another. It was really bad, we slept on the ground, the ceiling leaked, so, when it was raining, it rained both outside and inside. The ceiling was rotten; we slept on the doors, on boards – what one could find. They fenced us with metal mesh and set outside the gates with machine guns. They fed us twice a day: a plate of water and very little porridge without salt, like a kind of soup. I lost about 20 kilograms. Once a week they gave a mobile phone to call mother. They woke us at seven, lined and picked for works.
By the time about 50 Ukrainian captives were engaged in forced labor and altogether militias detained about 200 people in Snizhne.
We worked all the time, every day except Sunday. First we cleaned up the territory, the town, and then we dismantled
exploded houses, gathered hardware. Mainly we dismantled demolitions. Overseers shoot under our feet, hit our backs, our heads, humiliated us. They just liked to humiliate, they had nothing to do, so they could come, strike in a back with a butt of the riffle. They said: “if you tell the chief, we will shoot you.
During our conversation Oles told us about the facts of support of separatists from the Russian Federation.
illu 2

“The one who came with a sword” illustration by Natalia Meles

We saw militaries, weapons, hardware. We saw two convoys of Russian military vehicles that moved from the border with Russia to DNR. Tanks, BMDs with white circles – that way Russians marked their military vehicles. We communicated with Russian militaries, they did not conceal their origin… Laughed at us… They said: “You are UKROPS, and we are Russian troops… Soon we will be in Kyiv!!!”

Oles was released in September of 2014, in the result of interchange. 71 Ukrainian serviceman turned back home from the captivity in so-called DNR together with Oles.
It`s good that I got out from there. Almost every day I was punished for defending my positions, but what could I do? I never keep silent. If they were here now, I would crunch them.
Over a year passed from the moment Oles was released. No one was brought to justice, no one was punished for the horror he lived through. Conflict in the East of Ukraine still lasts…
Before publishing this article we asked Oles if he wanted to add anything. He had what to say.
The hardest was to withstand humiliation and beating. You cannot respond!!! What could we do? They had guns. And they are Ukrainians, who recently were considered one people with us. It`s sad…

After turning back home I changed my views dramatically. Money is of little importance in our life, main things are health and freedom.

I treat people more negatively now… They do not understand that it is a war. And it is very close. And if we don’t stop enemies there, soon they will destroy our houses here.
* Ukrop – Russian word for dill plant, disparagingly used by Russians to refer to Ukrainians.
Translated by Oksana Klymchuk